Kia's new luxury flagship saloon went on sale in Korea last week, introducing the rapidly growing marque to a new segment of the global automotive market.
The Kia K9 is a new rear-wheel drive model which will also be launched in several overseas markets starting in the fourth quarter of this year.
The flagship sedan will have a different name in overseas markets - to be revealed closer to its on-sale date - but it's unlikely the New Zealand or Australian markets will see the car in the foreseeable future.
With a 5090mm overall length and 3045mm wheelbase, the Kia K9 is close in size to the Jaguar XJ saloon. Overall width and height are 1900mm and 1490mm, respectively, which creates a spacious cabin environment.
The car is the first modern Kia built on a rear-wheel-drive platform and initially the K9 will be available in some overseas markets powered by an upgraded 213kW Lambda V6 3.8-litre engine.
Currently used in the Carnival people-mover, for fitment to K9 the Kia engineers boosted the Lambda V6's power output, raised its efficiency and enhanced its refinement.
A new-generation direct injection 3.8-litre V6 engine with 245kW output will join the global engine line-up next year.
An all-new eight-speed automatic transmission is standard with a wide spread of gear ratios allowing brisk acceleration and high-speed refinement, while shift-by-wire (SBW) technology with a joystick control delivers fast, smooth gear changes.
The ultra-stiff bodyshell, electronically controlled air suspension with five-link front and rear suspension geometry provide sophisticated ride and handling characteristics.
Four driving modes (Eco, Normal, Sport and Snow) enable the driver to choose a preferred set-up of suspension, steering, engine and transmission ideal for various road conditions or driving styles.
"K9 is all about elegant simplicity, balanced proportions and simple surfaces," said Kia's chief design officer, Peter Schreyer.
"The class-leading long wheelbase, the prestige distance, large wheels, sharply upright short overhangs and a long sweeping shoulder line all work together in a harmony to give K9 a sporty, athletic proportion and a confident stance quintessential to a premium large rear-wheel drive vehicle.
"K9 is a clear signal of our intention and determination to compete head-to-head with the European luxury brands.
The all-new saloon will premiere a range of advanced luxury features and technologies, including fully adaptive all-LED headlamps, Lane Departure Warning System (LDWS), radar-based Blind-Spot Detection (BSD), a 17-speaker Lexicon (by Harman) sound system, Smart Cruise Control (SCC) and an Around-View Monitor (AVM) with four cameras.
Premium features include a 12.3-inch full size Thin Film Transistor (TFT) LCD cluster, an HUD (head-up display) and twin 9.2-inch monitors to entertain rear-seat occupants.
Smart Cruise Control (SCC) which adjusts speed to maintain the distance from the vehicle ahead is also standard.
The luxury limousine status supported by a "VIP" option will offer twin heated and ventilated rear seats with a reclining backrest, sliding cushion and lower leg support for the "nearside" seat, together with a front passenger seat that slides forward when not being used.